Jaime Lerner

Rank: 
20

Jaime Lerner was governor of the state of Paraná, in southern Brazil. He is renowned as an architect and urban planner, having been mayor of Curitiba, capital of Paraná, three times (1971–75, 1979–84 and 1989–92). In 1994, Lerner was elected governor of Paraná, and was reelected in 1998.

During his first term, Lerner implemented the Rede Integrada de Transporte (also call for Bus Rapid Transit), and continued to implement a host of social, ecological, and urban reforms during his ensuing terms as mayor.As Mayor, Lerner employed unorthodox solutions to Curitiba's geographic challenges. Like many cities, Curitiba is bordered by floodplain. While wealthier cities in the United States such as New Orleans and Sacramento, have chosen to build expensive, and expensive-to-maintain levee systems to build on floodplain. In contrast, Curitiba purchased the floodplain and made parks. The city now ranks among the world leaders in per-capita park area. Curitiba had the problem of its status as a third-world city, unable to afford the tractors and petroleum to mow these parks. The innovative response was "municipal sheep" who keep the parks' vegetation under control and whose wool funds children's programs.

When Lerner became mayor, Curitiba had some barrios impossible to service by municipal waste removal. The "streets" were too narrow. Rather than abandon these people, or raze these slums, Lerner began a program that traded bags of groceries and transit passes for bags of trash. The slums got much cleaner.

As governor, Lerner used a policy of attracting investment to turn Paraná into one of Brazil's industrial hubs, generating investments of over US$20 billion between 1995 and 2001. Following upon his experience in Curitiba, Lerner focused on issues like transport, education, health, sanitation, leisure, and industrialization.